J-PAL, founded by Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, together with CERR, organized a workshop to assist in the development and testing of innovative approaches in cooperation with the Government of Uzbekistan to improve the effectiveness of state programs to combat poverty.
On May 10, 2022, the Center for Economic Research and Reforms (CERR) hosted a scientific and methodological workshop on the topic: "J-PAL and Uzbekistan: the beginning of partnership and sharing experiences in the fight against poverty", with the aim of studying the world's best practices and methods of combating poverty, forming priority areas for future joint research with special emphasis on social protection, employment and entrepreneurship issues as well as education.
The event was opened by the CERR Director Dr. Obid Khakimov, who addressed all participants with a welcoming speech. He noted that the fight against poverty and the organization of social protection are in the focus of the state's attention and a lot of work has been done in this direction in the country over the past 5 years. In particular, he recalled the relevant Decrees and Resolutions of the Head of State aimed at further strengthening social protection of vulnerable segments of the population; the launch of the new “makhallabay” system in Uzbekistan, as well as one of the main goals of the Strategy of New Uzbekistan – reducing the poverty level in the country by half by 2026.
Cillian Nolan, Policy Director of J-PAL Europe, noted that the purpose of the visit to Uzbekistan is to provide technical support in research that can form the basis of the state's anti–poverty programs and study the impact and effectiveness of such programs.
"We are in Uzbekistan to organize a workshop that will help assess the effectiveness of various measures to combat poverty, whether these methods have helped to achieve poverty reduction goals, increase access to education, create jobs and positively affect the well-being of the population," the expert said.
During the workshop, many interesting questions were received from the audience, in particular about how the research data can be applied.
"The study itself cannot change the policy, but it can make it clear to us whether the program is working or not and, in the future, have an impact on making changes to such programs.
Our goal in Uzbekistan is to provide technical support, to consider studies that can form the basis of the state's programs to combat poverty, to study the impact and effectiveness of such programs, to evaluate them in order to provide answers to the questions of citizens, as well as ministries and departments responsible for poverty reduction," noted Cillian Nolan, Policy Director of J-PAL Europe.
During the workshop, J-PAL experts told the participants about the basics of the methodology on which research work in the laboratory is based and how the results of projects carried out in various countries to combat poverty and organize social protection over time are evaluated. In particular, the presentation cited the experience of Peru, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Special focus was paid to evaluating the results of ongoing projects over time. As noted by Karla Petersen, Evidence to Scale Manager at J-PAL Global and Policy Manager at J-PAL Europe, "assessing the impact of certain projects that J-PAL is implementing in various countries takes from 6 months to two or more years, and it is not always possible to predict in advance whether these measures will have a positive effect or it would be better to leave this process to proceed on its own, because the negative effect from the actions taken is also possible."
"There are no guarantees that the projects adopted and successfully proved themselves in one country will be as successful in another, even taking into account similar factors in both countries. Each country needs an individual approach," Karla Petersen said.
During the discussion, J-PAL experts and participants of the event agreed that, first of all, it is important to conduct preliminary studies of the current situation in the country, as well as to study the measures already taken and launched initiatives for social protection and combating poverty in the republic in order to objectively assess and predict the potential impact of additional actions that may recommend J-PAL.
Methods and possibilities of collecting up-to-date information on the calculation of the number of people in need, the role of the state in the implementation of incentive measures for social protection as well as ways of collecting analytics and calculating the dynamics of the consequences of the measures taken were also actively discussed. In conclusion, the workshop participants exchanged contacts with J-PAL experts and agreed to exchange relevant information in order to begin forming priority areas for future joint research in the coming years.
PR Service, CERR